CAPE TOWN, South Africa – After 20 years of serving the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission (WEA-MC) as its Executive Director, Dr. William Taylor officially handed over leadership to Brazilian missionary Bertil Ekstrom, during a spirited transition service and celebration on Wednesday, June 21, 2006.
“I have no doubt that heaven is smiling, and that God’s eyes are on this place,” said Ndaba Mazabane, Chairman of the WEA International Council and South African native. “The world may be watching [the World Cup] in Germany, but all the angels have been instructed to put their eyes on this great service.”
Taylor has served the Mission Commission since 1986, and has brought tremendous growth to the once-fledgling network, which now boasts membership from over 80 countries around the world.
More than 300 missions experts and pastors from 54 countries gave their blessings to the Commission’s past, present and future, as a dozen representatives laid their hands on Taylor, his wife Yvonne, and Ekstrom at the two-hour celebration.
“Tonight, we release these brothers into new areas of ministry,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the WEA. “We bless you; your appointment has been affirmed.”
For 20 years, the Taylors sacrificed their dream of remaining as missionaries in Latin America, and raised their own funds to strengthen the network of like-minded visionaries who have become the WEA-MC of today.
“There were challenging times,” Taylor reminisced. “There were times when we thought we may have to close the MC down because of these challenges.”
“But it was the vision to serve the global mission movement that committed us to this ministry, and the Holy Spirit that allowed us to continue – whether or not we had money,” he explained. “What you see now is the result of God’s work in 20 years. I’m so grateful that God is present.”
The leadership transition service – the highlight of the weeklong 10th WEA-MC Convocation in Cape Town, South Africa – was as much a tribute to Taylor’s sacrifice and service as it was a celebration of the new direction and leadership of the 31-year-old Commission.
“Bill, we are deeply grateful for you,” said Tunnicliffe. “Because of your leadership, the Kingdom of God has been advancing around the world, God’s servants have been more effectively trained for leadership, missionaries have been cared for better than 20 years ago, and those of us who are mission activists have become more reflective practitioners.
“Tonight, we give God the glory of your service of 20 years, and we honor that,” Tunnicliffe proclaimed.
Ekstrom also gave thanks to Taylor and to those who mentored him, as he sought “support in prayer and in correction” to help him understand God’s continuing vision for his future.
“I think you know some of my limitations – I have many more,” said the Swedish-born missionary to Brazil, who currently resides in England. “I’m also thankful for the people who have encouraged me during this journey, and together I want to serve you, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The transition process began two years ago in the Netherlands, when Ekstrom was anointed as the next MC executive director. Since then, the two men have collaborated in planting a new direction for the Commission, drawing out their respective strengths and characteristics, and working out a smooth changeover of leadership.
“The leadership transition went so well,” said Dr. K. Rajendran, Chair of the WEA-MC Global Leadership Team and Executive Director of India Missions Association. “It has been planned for years, and the conclusion was absolutely fantastic.”
“I think Bertil [Ekstrom] will take us in the same footsteps of Bill Taylor, but also in a direction that is much better than all that has happened so far,” Rajendran explained. “He is a team player and has different giftings, and I’m grateful for Bill [Taylor] for paving the way.”
Ekstrom will serve in his new position, and Taylor will serve the larger WEA community as a global ambassador.
New visions and goals for the WEA-MC are being developed by several Task Force members that were appointed at the beginning of the triennial meeting. Conclusions and finding will be presented during public sessions on Thursday, June 22, 2006 – two days before the gathering comes to a close.
The Mission Commission produces resources for mission movements around the globe. Free books and other print materials are available from www.wearesources.org.
World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)
World Evangelical Alliance is made up of 127 national evangelical alliances located in 7 regions and 104 associate member organizations. The vision of WEA is to extend the Kingdom of God by making disciples of all nations and by Christ-centered transformation within society. WEA exists to foster Christian unity, to provide an identity, voice and platform for the 420 million evangelical Christians worldwide.
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Dr. William Taylor,
Mr. Bertil Ekstrom
Mission Commission Executive Director